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5 Ways to Prepare for Your Post-COVID Work and/or Studies

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent global shutdowns have drastically impacted the worlds of work and studies everywhere. 

A huge number of industries and small businesses had to completely shut down for over a month, and thousands of workers had to learn (very quickly) how to manage the tricky beast that is remote work. Other industries have flourished. For those in marketing, design, brand management, social media management, copywriting, advertising and other content creation industries, jobs may have been flowing in as every business needed to get their message across to their customers. The video game and app industry has gone up as people have sought entertainment, the same goes for streaming sites, and Youtubers, bloggers, vloggers and any other online entertainment producers. Everyone has been eating up communication software and social media apps, especially video-call/conference apps like Zoom and Skype.

As for the world of scholarship, colleges, universities and schools had to shut down all on-campus activities, which means that the majority of learning ceased for at least a short while – many institutions made the move or are planning on moving over to online/correspondence learning. For those who have missed out on essential time, degrees may have to be extended and holidays might be shortened, especially in the case of qualifications that require a practical aspect such as students of medicine/health care, psychology, fine arts, drama, physio, sports science, and science degrees that require lab experiments. 

We also have to face the possibility of future lockdowns, depending on how the COVID statistics are looking. 

We have been through some difficult and scary times, and now we face the challenges of the post-COVID landscape. But don’t panic, we’ve put together some suggestions for how you can prepare for your journey and turn it into a success story. 

1.     Communicate and Connect

As with all things, the greatest weapon and shield you will ever have is a strong support structure. Surround yourself with peers, colleagues, friends, family and loved ones – Stacey Flowers gave a fantastic TED Talk on The Five People You Need to Be Happy. Make sure that the people close to you not only want the best for you but will help you get there. You need people who will support you and believe in you when you can’t believe in yourself; you need people who you can go to for guidance and advice; you need people who will push you to step outside of your comfort when it will be good for you, and you need people who will challenge you if your behaviour is destructive to your future and wellbeing. 

Take a look at the people around you and evaluate whether or not they are a positive force in your life, and put effort into staying connected with the good and beautiful people who will play a role in your success and happiness.

2.     Conduct a Self-Performance Review 

Look back at the past month and think about how well you adapted to and managed the circumstances – better yet, write it down! If you had to work or study at home, look at whether or not you were able to be productive and, if not, evaluate why – was it because you couldn’t focus at home, were you feeling anxious about your work for some reason, were you staying up too late and missing out on sleep, are you afraid of failing, have you been depressed or apathetic? The key is honesty – you have to look back at your actions and behaviour with full clarity and without judgement – you did the best you could under the circumstances. 

The goal is not to point out everything you did wrong, but rather to figure out why things happened the way they did and look for potential solutions such as therapy, meditation and mindfulness, breathing exercises, a strict sleep schedule, or a chat with your peers and/or superiors about how you can manage things better.

3.     Evaluate How You Work Best 

If you are someone who has had to do remote work or correspondence studying for the first time, look at whether you found it worse or better than your usual working arrangement. Many people and businesses have realised that remote work actually, well, works. If you have found yourself to be more productive and happy working from home, consider talking to your superiors and find out if you can continue to work remotely. But there is no need to feel bad about yourself if you have struggled to focus and stay motivated – we have been going through a global crisis, an incredibly challenging time in so many ways, and so many people may have found it near impossible to reach their maximum level of efficiency and productivity. If that’s you, try and take this as a reminder of how powerful your office/workspace really is in fuelling your productivity, and try to tap into that when you return to it.

4.     Practise REAL Self-Care 

Self-care should always be one of your top priorities, but it might not be what you think. When most of us hear self-care we usually think about taking a relaxing bubble bath, treating yourself to a slab of chocolate, or practising meditation every morning…but real self-care is a little more complicated. First of all, it has to be rooted in honesty – be honest with yourself about how you are feeling, and why you are feeling like that. It’s the only way that you will be able to find real solutions! Secondly, aim to manage your behaviour according to what’s best for your overall health and wellbeing, rather than according to how you are feeling. For example, you may be experiencing anxiety and depression and finding it difficult to work, so you decide to take the day off and watch Netflix. It’s totally fine to give yourself a break when you need it, but make sure to (honestly) evaluate why you made that choice. Maybe you had to get away from your work due to anxiety caused by being behind on your deadlines, in which case true self-care would be sitting down and trying as hard as you can to get through at least some of your work. Once you become aware of what your feelings are telling you, it will be far easier to figure out how to solve problems that you encounter and reach a place of contentment and happiness – the ultimate goal of self-care.

5.     Expand Your Skill Set and Stay Informed

With so much changing from one day to the next, it’s essential to stay informed about what’s going on and make sure that you understand what it means for the economy, politics and the world of work. You could try installing a news app on your phone, or simply read it online, and dedicate some time each day to catching up on current events. (But please do monitor your own needs and mental health – if the news makes you feel anxious, stressed or depressed, take a break and give yourself some time.)

A great way to learn how to understand the implications of current events and prepare yourself for the future is to undertake some self-led learning. The best thing that you can do is arm yourself with as many tools and weapons as possible, such as new skills, knowledge and qualifications. You could do this yourself through internet research or, better yet, enrol in an online course! This way you can learn how to analyse markets and economies, make accurate predictions, and devise effective solutions for problems that you might encounter. PLUS, you will have a new qualification on your resume – always a good thing in uncertain times! (psst, MasterStart has online courses in business, management, finance, leadership and marketing to get you ready for the post-COVID world!)

It’s definitely a scary time and it’s going to be a difficult journey, but don’t lose hope. Now, more than ever, you need to have faith in yourself, invest in yourself and be kind to yourself. If you prepare properly, equip yourself with the right skills and knowledge, commit to your goals, and believe in your ability to be productive, focused, driven and victorious, you will find the success that you so deserve.

Start Preparing Today with MasterStart

COVID-19: How Business Can Thrive in a Brand New Future

If the COVID-19 coronavirus has taught us anything, it’s that adaptability is not only helpful for businesses to continue thriving in changing circumstances – it’s fundamentally necessary. Rising new trends such as artificial intelligence and disruptive technology have given us a taste of where the world is going, and now the move has been accelerated. 

The ‘new normal’, which necessitates remote work, digital communication, and a call for soft and hard skills in innovative thinking, is a projection of where the world is heading. In order to keep up, there’s a call to tailor to the circumstance. 

Future-Proof Your Business with These Four Strategies

Avoid hanging onto only traditional business practices

If you rely on every individual coming into the office to work every day, you’re inviting trouble for yourself. From expensive overheads to an outdated means of ignoring the advantage of online alternatives, the ‘traditional’ task-force has been rattled. If we’ve learned anything from the novel coronavirus, it’s that the internet is an essential tool – and it’s dangerous to not take full advantage of it.

What to do:

Adopt online practices as much as possible. Learn and teach effective digital communication skills, and ensure that teams can conduct themselves according to business as usual despite any radical changes in whatever happens in-office.

As far as possible, offer the ‘essentials’

The word ‘essential’ has taken on a brand new meaning. It no longer only means important –  it now carries a connotation of a need to be available and on offer. If your business doesn’t offer an essential for consumers, ensure that there is something critically important on offer to all individuals. During the outbreak, high-end fashion apparel retailers started selling high-end face masks to ensure there was something on offer, despite their entire industry being locked down. 

What to do:

In all circumstances, adapt to what is necessary when luxury is unavailable. This is especially important as the radical impact the economy is facing will propel customers away from the ‘nice-to-haves’.

Be a problem-solving innovative thinker

There is always a problem the world and individuals face. If it’s not a health pandemic, it’s a growing global environmental crisis. If it’s not environmental, it’s societal distress in rising anxiety and depression levels. Things are changing more rapidly than ever before, and it causes strain when the problems that emerge with that change are not met with solutions. Instead of offering an indistinguishable (albeit perhaps exciting) product or service, learn how to offer real-value solutions to address the problems.

What to do:

Spend your thinking time outside the box. Research and constantly learn what solutions have been tried and tested to address global problems, exploring new and creative avenues of thought.

Stay ahead and remain hungry for new knowledge

Adaptability is not something you can pull out of a magician’s hat. It’s a combination of character and knowledge. In order to adapt, you need to be resilient and have an understanding of how you might be able to adapt. Constant learning of future trends, new innovations, and predicted trajectories in economics and business help set you up to be as adaptable as possible. Researching new strategies and systems is a sure-fire way of remaining ahead and staying afloat despite the muddy waters of uncertainty.

What to do:

Read, all the time. Take classes. Explore new trends, and adapt your thinking to adaptability. 

Register for our Online Digital Programmes and gain a wealth of adaptable, practical industry knowledge to take into your business thinking.

Freedom Day – What is it and What Does it Mean for South Africa?

The 27th of April is about celebrating freedom in South Africa. Freedom Day, the commemoration of the first post-apartheid election held 26 years ago, is a day of national pride as citizens look forward to the bright future that contrasts with a difficult past for so many. 

It is with absurd irony that Freedom Day should fall at a time during which the country is under lockdown. In a difficult period for South Africans and the global population, it’s crucial to enjoy the small wins and embrace times of celebration.

Celebrating Online Solutions

With the internet, it is possible for many to maintain daily operations from home. The invaluable technology allows for a freedom we might never have imagined. While we can’t physically move beyond our homes, we can communicate with friends, family and colleagues to keep the community beyond the distance. 

The online space also offers a platform for fields that are technologically reliant to excel. From careers to digital learning, there is an open opportunity to upskill without concern about location. 

Celebrating the Opportunity of Time

There are two camps of people at this time: those who are taking advantage of the time they now have to equip themselves with new skills, knowledge, and resources. 

And those who aren’t.

We have been forced out of our busy schedules to new, remote routines with personal responsibility to fill at our choosing. As we step into the (possible) final week of readjusted lockdown, we have learned lessons about the use of time and how it can be effectively leveraged or ineffectively wasted. 

Celebrating the Chances of Choice

Whether you’ve been in the productive or procrastinatory camp, the way you step out of lockdown will be a new choice to make.

If you’re willing, you can make time count for you by using the opportunities at your fingertips (such as our Online Digital Programmes) as stepping stones to career success you may never have imagined. 

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Health, Safety and Your Workplace

In the midst of the chaos that has somehow become our reality, it’s important to underline some of the behaviour and bad habits that negatively affect the health and safety of your current workspace. Whether your company has taken the necessary precautions to ensure your working environment is safe or you’re fortunate enough to be working from home, promoting workplace health and safety requires consistent effort.

What constitutes health and safety in the workplace?

Health and safety rights in the workplace refer to the fact that you as an employee have a right to be safe at your place of work. It is a responsibility shared by both the employer and the employee. For employers, one of the fundamental principles of workplace health and safety is risk assessment, which identifies all the hazards and potential for harm whilst working.


“Good planning without good working is nothing.”

Dwight D Eisenhower

Below are some examples of how health and safety in the workplace can be compromised: 

  •  ➥ When an employee sends inappropriate messages to you personally and continues to do so despite you expressing your discomfort. If you’re currently experiencing this, it’s important to escalate the matter and ensure your safety is taken care of.

  •  ➥ When employees are not trained/briefed correctly before entering a potentially harmful environment. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the safety of employees whilst at work, and that proper training is conducted for more demanding positions.

  •  ➥ When employees are faced with health and safety hazards (such as communicable disease, transportation accidents, workplace violence, slipping and falling, and the like).

Thankfully, there are a number of steps that can be taken to increase workplace safety. Here are some tips on how employers can ensure that their employees are protected:

1. Staff training

Perhaps the most influential way employers can achieve fewer injuries and increased workplace safety is through clearer, more accessible, and more thorough training programmes for their employees. 

2.  Insist on safety in the workplace

It all starts with you. If you as the boss enforce the safety rules and regulations and stand behind them 100%, your employees will take the cue from you that they need to put safety first.

3. Give your workers the tools and resources they need to be safe

Whether it’s referring your employees to psychologists or providing tools to ensure that their safety is taken care of, making these tools accessible immediately will further encourage safety compliance.

4. Continuously find ways to improve

Safety on the job is not a static thing. There’s always room for improvement, so it’s important to brainstorm with your employees to find out ways you can all promote a higher level of safety awareness for all.

5. Keep a clean house

If you are working from home, messy areas could breed decreased motivation and a lack of concentration. Make sure your work area is relatively clean, neat and dry to boost safety and – particularly right now – sanity. Make sure your employees also know the value of a clean workspace and encourage them to do the same.

Ultimately, the goal of World Day for Safety and Health at Work is to create a national occupational culture in which the right to a safe and healthy working environment is respected at all levels. 

We would like to encourage YOU to stay safe this World Day for Safety and Health at Work. 

For more info on this day, visit: 

www.ilo.org/

Alumni Discount

No matter which course you completed, in which year or month you did so, or where in the world you are right now, MasterStart will always be your online education home.  There are many reasons to keep in touch with us after obtaining your certificate. These include being part of a worldwide network of MasterStart alumni who share your learning experience, as well as opportunities to contribute to the future development of MasterStart.

Qualify for a 10% Discount

As a MasterStart alumnus, you also qualify for a 10% discount on any of our courses!

To claim YOUR discount, all you need to do is either:

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  1. Talk to us on LiveChat

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For more information, contact us:

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How to Inspire Innovation & Cultivate Creativity

Sometimes inspiration hits like a tidal wave as innovation spills out of you effortlessly. Other times, it’s a desert, barren of new ideas and bare of the ripe fruit of creativity. 

Tomorrow is World Creativity and Innovation Day, the United Nations initiative which places creativity at the forefront of the problem-solving of global issues. The day is dedicated to harnessing creative energy in order to adopt innovative thinking as a culture. 

Modern-day problems met by modern-day solutions.

At the core of creativity is knowledge. It’s an expression of information crafted to power through a problem, whether one of beauty or of practicality. Knowing the power that innovative thinking holds, it is our responsibility to equip ourselves to cultivate creativity as much as we possibly can. How do we do this? We work for it so that the tidal waves of inspiration crash over us almost consistently. 

Plan Time to Just Think

Set aside a portion of your day for deep creative thinking. Engage your mind to consider problems you (or the world) may face and mull over them, thinking up new ideas, discarding them, and finding newer ones. Consider the best ideas that come from ‘flat’ time, such as in the car, shower, or gym. Foster this ‘flat’ thinking time into your daily routine. Schedule a time each day dedicated to engaging your creative mind. It’s difficult initially, but like any routine, the creativity will normalise and become a habit in time.

Store Your Inspiration

Something sparks your imagination. It gets you thinking on a brand new track, one which you’ve never explored before. Then, later you forget where you found the inspiration and it gets lost in the haze of the day’s chaos. It happens, and a lot more often than you may think. Start making note of the things that inspire you so that you can come back to them later. Save a picture, write a thought down, send an audio file of music to yourself. Whatever you need to do, make sure you ‘store’ up things that spark your creativity so when you hit a slump, you’ll have a treasure chest of inspiration waiting for you.

Trust Yourself and Your Team

If you head up a team, trust their ideas, even if you’re not in a creative department. If you can create a culture of honest, innovative thinking, you’ll have a happier team that’s willing to think differently. This often results in better, more efficient systems and a culture of enthusiasm.

Learn Something New

Ignorance, as blissful as it may be, is ultimately detrimental to your innovative output. If you have no mental or creative stimulation, odds are your creations are going to become repetitive and flavourless. Inspire yourself by picking up a new hobby, practising a skill, or dedicating your time to learning something new. Taking an Online Programme, for example, is an excellent way to focus your attention and sharpen your mind. It also has the added benefit of teaching you practical skills that you can easily implement into your day, life and career.

Innovation, Creativity & Online Education

Happy World Creativity and Innovation Day!

World Creativity and Innovation Day is the last day of celebration during World Creativity and Innovation Week. It has been celebrated in over 46 countries since 2002. Those in businesses, organisations, institutions of learning, and communities come together to celebrate and generate new ideas for a promising future.

Creativity and innovation are becoming progressively significant for the development of the 21st-century information society. They add to economic success as well as social and individual wellbeing and are fundamental aspects of creating a better you. Education is viewed as a focal point in encouraging creativity and innovative skills.

Creativity

Creative learning requires innovative teaching. Innovative teaching is both the act of instructing for creativity, and of applying innovation to teaching. The two perspectives require an educational culture that values creativity and considers it to be a benefit in both conventional and online classrooms.

With help from policy-makers and institutions, educators have become key figures in building a creative climate. Curricula and assessments are key territories to be tended to in order to allow for creativity in the workspace. Technologies assume a critical role in the lives of those in the learning space and can empower educational change towards an innovative and creative learning experience.

Innovation

There are different factors, alongside technology, that help creative learning and innovative teaching. These factors are the support mechanisms that make creativity and innovation more likely to flourish. They are assessments, curriculum, individual skills, teaching and learning format, technology and tools. 

The co-existence of these factors gives rise to an empowering environment where creative learning and innovative teaching blooms. Without these, creativity is less inclined to prosper. With these factors engraved in the structure of our courses, our academic staff and students can effectively participate in the creative and innovative process. 

With courses made to encourage creative and innovative skills, we guarantee a stimulating and forward-thinking experience. Sign up for our online short courses to experience the magic in action! 

Working From Home: Thrive in a Remote World

It feels like we’ve been thrown into a new world, with little time to prepare. While we’ve scrambled to adjust, two things have come to light: the Internet can no longer be seen as a luxury, and there is a desperate need for business adaptability.

With the requirement of working remotely, it’s important to consider the best ways to tackle the time under lockdown. The following four techniques will help you set up your workspace – which doubles as a study space – so that you can settle into “work from home” in the smoothest way possible.

Have a Dedicated Working Space

It might sound simple, but setting up a workspace specifically committed to your work and studying is a total game-changer in helping generate motivation and productivity. If you’re not used to working from home, it requires a mental shift to move from “being home” to “being at work”. Make the shift that much easier and set up a spot in your home strictly dedicated to your workspace – keep the “home” life in its own space too. (This means avoiding working from bed!)

Routine, Routine, Routine

It’s easy – and tempting – to roll out of bed and pick up your laptop when you feel like it, but it’s crippling to motivation. Set up for success and pick a routine you can stick to every day. In the same way that you might rely on routine in an office setting, set an alarm, wake up, work out (if you’re so inclined), and hit the ground running. With coffee in your cup and a pep in your step, this time spent working from home can see exceptional results in productivity.

Prioritise Clear Communication Through Chosen Platforms

Is your company using Zoom? Great! Skype the go-to channel for your team? Then stick to it! Take advantage of the technology in place to communicate with your team members and keep your messaging clear. If you have questions – ask them! In a remote capacity, it’s difficult to gauge if there’s miscommunication – so rather stick to over-communicating and staying on the same page.

Use the Internet to Connect with Like-Minded Individuals

Working in an office has the irreplaceable benefit of having people around to bat ideas off. Make sure you take advantage of technology to fulfil your social needs. Engaging with others – even online – can help stir up new, innovative thinking.  Explore the opportunity in the obstacle and keep your ideas flowing. 

Use the Internet to Learn More

This is a time unlike any other when we are fully reliant on technology to work, connect, and socialise. Take the fullest advantage of it and take the time to learn new skills that you can implement in your professional life from the get-go! Sign up for a GIBS Online Digital Programme and harness the power of the internet to upskill, taking your career knowledge to new heights.

10 Tips to #KeepLearning at Home

The COVID-19 pandemic and South Africa’s nationwide lockdown has thrown thousands into the world of remote working and correspondence study. Suddenly the morning commute is just the walk from the bed to the bathroom, the uncomfortable lecture theatre benches have turned into a couch, and business casual just means putting on pants. It can seem pretty great on paper, but many of us will come to find out that home is not always where the productivity is!

To help you to #KeepLearning on lockdown, we’ve put together a few tips that will make you a busy worker bee, no matter which hive you’re working in!

  1. 1. Style Your Workspace

You’ve probably heard this advice from a thousand different sources – and there’s a good reason for that! Curating your workspace and making your desk a nice place to be is a super-easy way to give you an extra boost of motivation for the day. First of all, make sure that your workspace is geared towards productivity – that means no beds or comfy couches! Add some pictures, plants, scented candles, some nice stationery, a big calendar with all of your deadlines (it’s super easy to make your own custom calendar – check out some ideas here!),  a big glass of water, and a snack station with fruits, veggies, nuts and other goodies (no excuse to keep going between your desk and the fridge!) Just a few simple touches will help you to get going and keep going!

  1. 2. Dress for the Occasion

It’s very tempting to stay in a hoodie and slippers for the day, but studies have shown that getting dressed for a day in the office will put you in work mode and increase your productivity. Try to include this in your morning routine along with washing your face, combing your hair, brushing your teeth, and anything else that you would have to do before leaving the house! Not only will this get you in the zone, but this will give you some time to wake up, prepare for the day and make yourself feel good. 

  1. 3. Keep a Routine

Maintaining your routine is probably the biggest challenge that comes with working or studying from home, but it is essential to your productivity and general wellbeing. First of all, a good routine will ensure that you’re getting everything that you need for the day – proper meals, adequate sleep, some exercise – plus it will keep you in check with your work. A routine is even more important if you don’t have set hours for when you’re on the clock, especially if you’re studying and your educational institution has closed for the lockdown. It’s fun to spend a couple of days munching chips on the couch, but slowly the days will flow into each other and you will find that your work and mental health are suffering.

  1. 4. Team Work Makes the Dream Work

If you live with other people try to sync up your routines so that you are all working at the same time (at least for part of the day!). Even if your home is a mix of workers, students and whoever else, everyone will have something that they need to do. Setting up designated “office hours” will make it easier to get into work mode, create a sense of community, and make sure that you aren’t getting FOMO sitting at your desk while the rest of the house is having a jol.

  1. 5. Keep Your Worlds Separate

Remote workforces your home and office to meld into one space, which can be confusing for your brain! We reserve certain places for specific activities – your desk is where you work, the couch is where you hang out with your housemates or watch Netflix, your bed is for sleep, etc. When you change things up because you want to work in bed for the morning or watch some YouTube videos at your desk in between tasks, you end up muddling up all the associations that have been set up. You’ll end up being unable to work or relax properly which means that you’ll be tired and unproductive – the worst of both worlds! 

  1. 6. Get the Right Fuel

Eating right is hard, and it gets even harder when you’re stuck at home just a short walk from the fridge! You might end up skipping proper meals and snacking throughout the day, which leaves you sluggish from all the extra goodies, but low on essential nutrients. Try and adhere to a regular eating schedule (e.g. breakfast, lunch and dinner with snacks in between) and get in the right amounts of fat, protein, carbs, vitamins, and nutrients. Now is a great time to try and set up a meal prep system with a set menu for the week – this will keep your health and finances in check!

  1. 7. Set Up a Soundtrack

Many people swear by listening to instrumental or classical music when they’re working as it can help you to focus and block out background noise, without the distractions of music with lyrics! Try putting together a work playlist that will help you to create an office atmosphere and get you in the zone. Instrumental music tends to work best, but you don’t have to listen to Mozart – try looking for instrumental covers of your favourite songs to jazz things up!

  1. 8. Break a Sweat

You knew this was coming. Although working out isn’t everyone’s best friend, it has undeniable health benefits. Of course, it’s great for your physical health, but it’s also great for your mental health in a bunch of ways! Firstly, it’ll get those endorphins going to boost your energy and your mood. Secondly, having a set time to exercise will introduce structure to your day, and completing your daily workout will give you a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

  1. 9. Procrastinate productively 

It would be great to avoid procrastinating altogether, but chances are that you’re going to be struggling a little bit to focus as you adjust to remote work. If you’re doing random things to avoid working, try to make the most of it by using your new-found motivation to tidy up, cook a healthy meal, put together a to-do list, or organise your notes. This will make things way easier once you settle in and get back into work mode!

  1. 10. Turn Up the Heat

One of the main challenges that come with working from home is the need for self-discipline. It can be difficult to get your butt in gear every day if you are having to motivate yourself, or if deadlines have melted away in the face of the lockdown. Giving yourself a new challenge like trying to learn a musical instrument, starting a new hobby or signing up for an online course will give you a motivation boost, plus you will be expanding your skill set and advancing your career! MasterStart offers different online courses so that you can #KeepLearning under lockdown!

#KeepLearning with MaterStart